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Honda IndyCar Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis message points

Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis
May 9, 2015
3 p.m. EDT
ABC

COMPETITION

• This weekend’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be the second Verizon IndyCar Series road race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and will serve as a prelude to the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

• Honda comes to Indianapolis seeking a repeat of last year’s results on both the road course and famed 2.5-mile oval. In 2014, Honda’s Simon Pagenaud won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis; and two weeks later Ryan Hunter-Reay scored a thrilling victory for Honda at the Indianapolis 500.

• Following Sunday’s “Opening Day” practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Honda received a bonus of 30 manufacturers’ championship points for attaining the 2,500-mile life cycle minimum for three of its Honda HI15RTT Indy V6 engines, the first engines this season to reach their mileage limit.

• The engines of Graham Rahal, Carlos Munoz and Gabby Chaves all achieved their mileage goal on Sunday, earning 10 points each for Honda, with others due to “mile out” at this weekend’s race.

• After four races, Honda has a total of 380 Manufacturer Championship points, Chevrolet has 216 points.

• The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series, the fourth season of the current generation of manufacturer competition, sees the introduction of manufacturer-developed Aero Kits to Indy car racing, adding another element of competition between Honda and Chevrolet. Each manufacturer has developed visually distinctive, performance-enhancing aerodynamic packages for use by its respective teams.

• Manufacturers were able to develop their own front/rear wing endplates, sidepods, engine covers, rear-wheel guards, and front/rear wing flaps, as long as they fit inside designated “volume boxes” as specified by INDYCAR.

• Aero kits allow multiple combinations of aerodynamic elements to suit the strategy and preferences of each team. This brings a new challenge to both Honda and individual team race engineers, who may mix and match these parts in an effort to find the right combination of downforce for optimum performance during both qualifications and the race at each Verizon IndyCar Series circuit.

• In accordance with INDYCAR regulations for 2015, Honda designed one aero kit for road/street courses/short ovals, and a second superspeedway aero kit, which debuted last weekend during“Opening Day” practice for the Indianapolis 500. Cost of engine manufacturer aero kits is capped at $75,000 per entry.

• Drivers and teams using Honda engines have won 212 Indy car races and 10 Indianapolis 500s, both during years of multi-manufacturer competition (1994-2005, 2012); and during Honda’s tenure as single engine supplier to the series (2006-11). Honda will be seeking its second consecutive ‘500’ triumph, and 11th in the last 12 years, on May 24.

MARKETING

• On Tuesday, May 5, Honda IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Jakes, Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson visited the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana auto assembly plant in nearby Greensburg, Indiana, approximately 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis. The drivers took a tour of plant facilities, including an up-close look at the latest quality assurance procedures utilized by HMIN, and conducted a two-hour autograph session for plant associates.

• Opened in 2008, HMIN is Honda’s newest American auto assembly plant, with approximately 2,000 associates, and has the capacity to build up to 200,000 Honda and Acura vehicles annually.

HONDA RACING/HPD VIDEOS

• Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda racing activities at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel.

• Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV

Andretti Leads Honda Effort as Indianapolis 500 Practice Begins

* Opening Day for Indy 500 preparation, qualifying set for May 17-18
* Oval practice precedes Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course event

Marco Andretti led the way for Honda and his Andretti Autosport team in Opening Day practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday in preparation for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. Andretti posted the third-fastest speed, an average of 226.268 mph, as 27 drivers took to the historic 2.5-mile oval.

Speeds increased dramatically during the final 30 minutes of the day-long practice, as drivers took advantage of the large number of cars on track to draft one another for a fast lap. Gabby Chaves, Honda’s sole first-year Indy car driver in this year’s 500, successfully completed his traditional Rookie Orientation Practice Sunday morning, prior to running the afternoon session and posting the 12th fastest speed. Making his debut with Andretti Autosport, veteran Justin Wilson led the morning practice session and was 15th for the day.

After today’s oval practice at Indianapolis, focus now shifts to the circuit’s 2.45-mile road course and preparations for the second annual Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Saturday, May 9.

Marco Andretti (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) 3rd fastest in Indy 500 Opening Day Practice: “It was interesting; there are still some gremlins to work out. We have an overwhelming laundry list of changes to try. Fortunately, we still have some time to do that. I’m pleased with the speed. The only thing I wasn’t pleased with was the balance of the car, but we’ve still got a lot of things to throw at that, and it’s very, very early.

Image 19

Honda’s Justin Wilson led the morning practice session in his debut for Andretti Autosport

 

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Race Report

Honda Racing Report
Sunday, April 26, 2015

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Race Report
Circuit: Barber Motorsports Park (2.3-mile road course), Birmingham, AL

2014 winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport Honda) 94.537 mph average

Weather: Mostly sunny, warm, 84 degrees F

Top 10 Race Results:
Fn. St. Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Average Speed/Notes
1. 5. Josef Newgarden Carpenter Fisher Hartman Chevrolet 90 107.176 mph average speed
2. 8. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda 90 +2.2061 seconds
3. 4. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 90
4. 2. Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet 90
5. 18. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda 90 Fastest race lap
6. 22. Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Honda 90
7. 10. James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda 90
8. 7. Sebastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 90
9. 3. Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Chevrolet 90
10. 13. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda 90

Other Honda-powered Results:
16. 17. Gabby Chaves-R Bryan Herta Autosport Honda 90 Running
17. 20. Takuma Sato A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 90 Running
20. 21. Rodolfo Gonzalez-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda 90 Running
21. 19. Jack Hawksworth A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 90 Running
22. 14. James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda 89 Running
23. 23. Francesco Dracone Dale Coyne Racing Honda 89 Running

Rahal Stars at Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Rahal at Barber Courtesy of Honda 2015

• Storming drive nets second-place finish
• Five Honda drivers in top 10 at the checkers
• Ryan Hunter-Reay claims fastest race lap, finishes fifth

Emerging from the final round of pit stops in fifth place, Graham Rahal starred in the final 20 laps of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, turning some of the fastest laps of the race and twice passing competitors around the outside of the Turn 5 hairpin to finish a close second in the 90-lap Verizon IndyCar Series race run at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.

Exiting the pits more than 20 seconds behind eventual race winner Josef Newgarden, Rahal caught and passed Helio Castroneves with his first outside Turn 5 pass on Lap 79, then successfully made the same move on fellow Honda driver Ryan Hunter-Reay two laps later. Rahal then chased down former series champion Scott Dixon for second, making the pass on the final lap and taking the checkers just 2.2 seconds behind Newgarden.

Prior to the final round of pit stops, Rahal also led 17 laps of today’s race, while James Hinchcliffe also briefly led for Honda, and ran in the lead pack during the middle stages before fading to a seventh-place finish. Hunter-Reay set the fastest race lap as he fought his way to a fifth-place result after starting 18th; and his Andretti Autosport teammate Carlos Munoz made the biggest move through the field in the race, finishing sixth after starting 22nd.

After three consecutive events, the Verizon IndyCar Series now takes a weekend off before heading “home” to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second Grand Prix of Indianapolis road race on Saturday, May 9, followed by the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24th.

Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda racing activities in Alabama, including Verizon IndyCar and Acura Pirelli World Challenge efforts, are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.

Verizon IndyCar Series Drivers’ Championship (after 4 of 16 rounds):
1. Juan Pablo Montoya 136 points (1 win) 6. James Hinchcliffe 110 (1 win)
2. Helio Castroneves 133 7. Tony Kanaan 110
3. Scott Dixon 123 (1 win) 8. Graham Rahal 103
4. Josef Newgarden 119 (1 win) 9. Simon Pagenaud 96
5. Will Power 112 10. Sebastien Bourdais 91

Manufacturers’ Championship:
1. Honda 350 (1 win)
2. Chevrolet 256 (3 wins) (penalized for early engine changes)

Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) started 8th, finished 2nd: “We knew when we made the strategy call to stay out we had to go fast in order to make up the gap. I knew I was going to have to push 110 per cent. I’ve got to say Honda did a great job for me today. It’s still tough to follow, but obviously, I passed a lot of guys. This team has come a long way and I think we have proven that. Eventually, one of these days we’ll win one of these things. I hope everybody enjoyed the race because we were pushing there until the last second. It was great racing with Ryan [Hunter-Reay], Will [Power] and [Scott] Dixon – he gave me room there in those last couple turns. That’s pretty nice of him – not a lot of guys [would] do that.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 18th, finished 5th: “I think that [fifth] was as good as we were going to get today. We really worked hard on saving fuel – we had to have a lot of discipline there to pull it off. Some guys pitted a little later than us, they were able to go a little heavier, a little harder, so we missed out on the podium because of that. All in all, a pretty good day for the DHL Honda.”

Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race in Long Beach: “This was an encouraging day, with a lot of strong performances from our teams, led by Graham [Rahal], Ryan [Hunter-Reay], ‘Hinch’ [James Hinchcliffe] and Carlos [Munoz]. Graham put on a driving clinic in the last 20 laps that, as a race fan myself, was just enjoyable to watch.
Congratulations to Josef [Newgarden] on a well-earned first Indy car victory. This was a good day for Honda, but we know we still have a lot of work ahead of us, and we’re looking forward to the ‘Month of May’ and the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.”

Rahal Qualifies Eighth for Honda at Barber Motorsports Park

* Hinchcliffe also posts top-10 qualifying effort
* Field set for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Graham Rahal led the Honda field in Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, posting the eighth-quickest time in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda in the second of the three-round “knockout” qualifying sessions.

The performance matched Rahal’s best previous qualifying effort at Barber Motorsports Park, eighth in 2012, and was his second consecutive top-eight qualifying run of 2015. James Hinchcliffe completed the top 10 qualifiers in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda racing activities in Alabama, including Verizon IndyCar and Acura Pirelli World Challenge efforts, are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) qualified eighth today: “It was a really good lap. I don’t know if there was much left in the Steak ‘n Shake car. These guys worked very hard and we fought back here in qualifying. It’s good to be the fastest Honda. We have to close the gap and get up there, get more competitive. I think we have a good chance in the race starting eighth. Anything can happen here. We’ve got to be smart and we’ve got to take care of the rear tires. I think we can get a good result, I feel good about it.”

Honda Unveils 2015 Accord Safety Car

• Will pace IndyCar Series races starting Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park
• Latest in series of Honda safety cars for Indy car competition
• Production 2015 Honda Accord modified by Honda R&D Americas

2015 Accord Pace Car #1 2015 Accord Pace Car #2

TORRANCE, Calif. (April 24, 2015) – Honda today unveiled the 2015 Honda Accord Safety Car, which will lead the Verizon IndyCar Series field to the green flag for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
The latest in a series of Honda Safety Cars utilized since 2006 for Indy car competition, the 2015 Honda Accord Safety Car is a production model featuring performance enhancements created by Honda R&D Americas, Inc., for its new role.
“The 2015 Honda Accord Coupe is an ideal match for IndyCar Safety Car duties,” said Jim Lee, manager of Experiential Marketing for American Honda. “Taking its already large and powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine, we asked the team at Honda R&D Americas to enhance and develop a car that is perfectly suited to lead the Verizon IndyCar Series field. I think they accomplished all that we asked, and more.”
The Honda R&D team started with a production Honda Accord Coupe, then added a mix of engine and chassis modifications to create a fun, fast vehicle fully capable of pacing Indy cars at both road courses and oval tracks across North America.
“Our team really appreciated the opportunity to work with our Honda Performance Development colleagues and deliver this highly capable Accord to the Series,” said Rick Nolan, manager of Honda R&D Americas’ Automobile Prototype Fabrication Department.
Key to the transformation from production vehicle to Safety Car was an assortment of engine modifications focused on increasing horsepower, torque and top speed.
High-flow fuel injectors are mated to a single Borg-Warner turbocharger and hand-crafted intake, intercooler and exhaust systems to produce a healthy 400 horsepower. A crankshaft from the Acura RLX, coupled with Honda Performance Development competition pistons and connecting rods, ensure reliability of the overall engine package.
The standard Honda six-speed transmission is strengthened by high-intensity shot peening, with a Limited Slip differential added to help put the power to the pavement.
Chassis modifications include a HPD brake system, including competition rotors, racing pads and stainless steel brake lines. Other chassis components are stiffened to increase rigidity, while Firestone high-performance tires are mounted on Enkei alloy wheels, with an enhanced camber angle kit to improve handling.
Modifications to the body and interior include power-assisted Sparco seats, four-point racing harnesses and a Honda Genuine Accessory aerodynamic body kit, including front, side and trunk lip spoilers.
An exclusive Honda “Power of Dreams” graphics package caps the conversion from showroom Accord Coupe to an IndyCar Series safety car.

About Honda R&D Americas
Honda R&D Americas, Inc., operates multiple major research and development centers in the U.S. with the capacity to fully design, develop and engineer many of the products Honda produces in North America.
These include Honda and Acura cars and trucks; Honda motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles; Honda power equipment products and the new Honda Jet.
Honda R&D Americas is headquartered in Torrance, California, and has locations in Columbus, Ohio; Raymond, Ohio; Pasadena, California; Mountain View, California; Detroit, Michigan; Denver, Colorado; Haw River, North Carolina; and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

About American Honda
Honda established operations in America in 1959 and now employs more than 39,000 associates in its North American sales, R&D and manufacturing operations with total capital investment in North America exceeding $23 billion.
Honda operates 17 major manufacturing facilities in North America producing a wide range of Honda and Acura automobiles, automobile engines and transmissions, Honda all-terrain vehicles, power equipment products, such as lawn mowers, mini-tillers and general purpose engines, and the HondaJet advanced light jet.
Eight Honda auto plants in the region, including four in the U.S., have the capacity to produce 1.92 million automobiles each year, using domestic and globally sourced parts. In 2014, more than 97 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America.
Those plants today manufacture 11 different models, including four passenger cars and seven light trucks using domestic and globally sourced parts. A fifth U.S. auto plant, the Performance Manufacturing Center, is under construction in Marysville, Ohio, and in 2015 will become the exclusive global producer of the next generation Acura NSX supercar.

About Honda Performance Development
HPD was founded in 1993 to spearhead Honda’s entry into Indy car racing. No other manufacturer has matched Honda’s success in Indy cars, which includes 212 race victories, 15 drivers’ championships, six competitive manufacturers’ championships and 10 Indianapolis 500 victories since 2004, including the 2014 event won by Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport.
HPD and Honda have a history of success in the classic endurance sports car races, including a pair of LMP2 wins and a privateer LMP1 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2010; as well as multiple American Le Mans Series championships and five LMP2 class victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring since 2007. HPD’s Honda engines have recorded 74 race wins at endurance sports car races around the world, with 70 of those victories coming in the HPD-developed line of sports prototype cars.
HPD offers a complete line of race engines for cars from grass roots to pinnacle; for professional, amateur and entry-level racers. For more information about HPD and the company’s racing product lines, please visit http://hpd.honda.com.

Honda IndyCar message points for Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
April 26, 2015
3 p.m. EDT
NBC Sports Network
COMPETITION

* Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the last two Indy car races at Barber Motorsports Park [with Honda in 2014 and as a Chevrolet driver in 2013], will be seeking his third consecutive Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama victory this weekend. Other previous Honda-powered winners at Barber include Helio Castroneves (2010) and Will Power (2011).

* Also at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend, RealTime Racing will spearhead the Acura Motorsports effort in the Pirelli World Challenge race, with a pair of Acura TLX GTs driven by Peter Cunningham and St. Petersburg race winner Ryan Eversley. In addition to his race victory, Eversley has posted two top-six finishes in five races this season and is sixth in the drivers’ championship standings. Acura ranks fourth in the manufacturers’ championship, one position ahead of defending series champion Cadillac.

* In 22 years, Honda Performance Development, the racing arm of the American Honda Motor Co., Inc., has grown from just a handful of staffers to approximately 150 associates; and from a simple engine-rebuilding facility to a complete motorsports Research & Development organization, engaged in programs ranging from pinnacle racing series including the Verizon IndyCar Series, Pirelli World Challenge, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship to grassroots and entry-level categories including karting, Quarter Midgets and Formula F competition.
NEW HONDA ACCORD SAFETY CAR DEBUTS

* This weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will also see the debut of the 2015 Honda Accord Safety Car, which will lead the Indy car field to the green flag for Sunday’s 90-lap feature race.

* Prepared for Safety Car duties by Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio, the Accord features a production-based 3.5-liter V6 engine that now produces 400 horsepower, in addition to increased torque and six-speed transmission. High-flow fuel injectors and the engine MAP sensor are mated to a single Borg-Warner turbocharger with hand-crafted intake, intercooler and exhaust systems.
* Chassis modifications include a competition brake system developed by Honda Performance Development, including four-piston brake calipers, competition rotors and pads, stainless steel brake lines, stiffened chassis components and high-performance suspension settings. Firestone high-performance tires mounted on Enkei alloy wheels complement the chassis package.

* Modifications to the body include power-assisted Sparco seats, four-point racing harness and a Honda Genuine Accessory aerodynamic body kit, including front, side, rear and trunk lip spoilers. An exclusive graphics theme completes the conversion from production Accord to IndyCar Series Safety Car.
MARKETING

* This weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama will be the sixth IZOD IndyCar Series event at the scenic, 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park circuit, and marks the fifth year American Honda has served as title sponsor of the event.

* On Thursday, April 23, Honda IndyCar drivers Marco Andretti, Gabby Chavez and Takuma Sato will visit the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama auto assembly plant in nearby Lincoln, AL. With approximately 4,000 associates, HMA has the capacity to build up to 300,000 Honda cars and trucks annually.

* The Honda “Power of Dreams” trailer will be a featured attraction this weekend within the TNT Fireworks Fan Zone, along with the Central Alabama Honda Dealers’ display of the range of Honda and Acura vehicles featuring Honda’s “Power of Dreams” livery for 2015

* The Honda Accord Hybrid, Civic Si, Fit and brand new HR-V vehicles will all be on display; along with opportunities for fans to participate in Honda Trackside social media activities.
HONDA RACING/HPD VIDEOS

* Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda racing activities in Long Beach, including Verizon IndyCar and Acura Pirelli World Challenge efforts, are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel.

* Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV

Andretti Leads Honda Field at Long Beach

  • Steady run nets eighth-place finish
  • Andretti Autosport teammate Carlos Munoz finishes ninth
  • Handling problems hamper several Honda drivers

Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz were among the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday for Honda and its Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and teams.

2015 IndyCar Long Beach

Marco Andretti finished eighth for Honda at Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach

 

Starting 10th and 12th, respectively, Andretti and Munoz had trouble-free runs on the 1.968-mile Southern California street circuit, with Andretti proving to be the quickest Honda at Long Beach, moving ahead of fellow Honda drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal to finish eighth. Munoz had an equally uneventful run to take the checkers in ninth.

Hunter-Reay, in the third Andretti Autosport entry, started fourth, but lost two positions in the run to the first turn, and later struggled on the harder compound “primary” tires to finish a disappointed 13th. Rahal likewise suffered from handling issues and finished 11th.

After early-race contact resulted in a pit stop for repairs and a slightly off-sequence pit strategy, Jack Hawksworth led four laps during the first scheduled round of pit stops, but the lack of any late-race cautions dropped the A.J. Foyt Racing driver to 14th at the finish.

The Verizon IndyCar Series now heads back east for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for the fourth round of the 16-race 2015 season at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, starting 3 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 26, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda racing activities in Long Beach, including Verizon IndyCar, TUDOR sports car and Acura Pirelli World Challenge efforts, are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV

Marco Andretti (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 10th, finished 8th: “It’s always nice to be in the top 10, but it’s a bit frustrating because we are sort of maximizing what we are dealt. I can see if we made mistakes and ended up eighth, then fine, but I’m not sure that we could have done better today. It will take a bit more development on everything and we’ll work for more in Barber next week.”

Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) started 8th, finished 11th: “We had an issue with the rear end of the car this morning in warm-up, but thought it would go away in the race. Unfortunately, it didn’t and we struggled with keeping the rear of the car underneath us. It was a major struggle to balance and maintain. It’s unfortunate, because I was hoping today would be a day where we could make up some points, and we squandered the opportunity.”

Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race in Long Beach: “Obviously, this was a very disappointing day for all of us at Honda Performance Development. We need to perform better. We do believe we have identified the areas where we need to improve, and will spare nothing in our efforts to return Honda to victory circle in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

Grand Prix of Long Beach Qualifying Report

Honda Racing Report
Saturday, April 18, 2015

Grand Prix of Long Beach Qualifying Report
Circuit: Grand Prix of Long Beach (1.968-mile temporary street circuit), Long Beach, CA
2014 winner: Mike Conway [Ed Carpenter Racing] 82.362 mph average
Weather: Sunny, mild, 72 degrees F.

Ps. Driver Team Manufacturer Best Time Notes
1. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet 01:06.63 106.331 mph average
2. Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Chevrolet 01:06.66 +0.0293 seconds
3. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:06.79 Fast six shootout
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda 01:07.05 Fast six shootout
5. Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Chevrolet 01:07.14 Fast six shootout
6. Josef Newgarden Carpenter Fisher Hartman Chevrolet 01:07.17 Fast six shootout
7. Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:07.11 Second round qualifier
8. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda 01:07.13 Second round qualifier
9. Sebastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 01:07.24 Second round qualifier
10 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda 01:07.32 Second round qualifier
11 Sebastian Saavedra Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:07.39 Second round qualifier
12 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Honda 01:07.40 Second round qualifier

Other Honda Powered Results:

13 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda 01:07.40 First round, Group 1
16 Jack Hawksworth A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 01:08.63 First round, Group 2
17 Gabby Chaves-R Bryan Herta Autosport Honda 01:07.47 First round, Group 1
19 James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda 01:07.77 First round, Group 1
20 Takuma Sato A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 01:08.87 First round, Group 2
21 Conor Daly-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda 01:08.78 First round, Group 1
22 Francesco Dracone-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda 01:10.46 First round, Group 2

Hunter-Reay to start fourth for Honda at Long Beach
Rahal posts seventh-quickest time in afternoon practice session
Graham Rahal continues strong weekend with eighth-place qualifying run
Andretti Autosport places all three drivers in the top 12

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the Honda field in “Firestone Fast Six” Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday in Long Beach, California, posting the fourth-quickest time in the final “knockout” elimination round that set the field for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hunter-Reay, the defending Indianapolis 500 champion, won in Long Beach in 201

Graham Rahal will start tomorrow’s 80-lap race from eighth, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, while Hunter-Reay’s Andretti Autosport teammates, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz, will start from 10th and 12th, respectivel

Sunday’s third round of the 16-race 2015 season starts at 4 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda) qualified 4th:  “That was pressure-packed. We definitely put the goal out today to make the Firestone Fast Six – that, for us, was a pole today. We got in there and we got well within [the top six], so we’re pretty happy about that. Tomorrow, for warmup, we’re going to have to see how the No. 28 DHL Honda is with race trim, but this is another step forward with this new Honda [aero] package, and I think it’s obvious. Congrats to Helio [Castroneves] on the pole. I think he won the pole here back in ’86 or something like that! No, no, like 13 years ago, but that’s a testament to how talented he is. We’re making steps with this Honda package, and I think we just keep chipping away at it like this and we’ll be able to close that gap.”

Grand Prix of Long Beach Friday Practice Report

Honda Racing Report

Friday, April 17, 2015

Grand Prix of Long Beach Friday Practice Report

Circuit: Grand Prix of Long Beach (1.968-mile temporary street circuit), Long Beach, CA

2014 winner: Mike Conway [Ed Carpenter Racing] 82.362 mph average

Weather: Sunny, mild, 77 degrees F

Top-10 Friday Practice Results:

Ps. Driver Team Manufacturer Best Time Notes
1. Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet 1:07.5485 104.885 mph average
2. Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Chevrolet 1:07.5855 +0.0370 seconds
3. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet 1:07.9132
4. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 1:07.9671
5. Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Chevrolet 1:08.0539
6. Josef Newgarden Carpenter Fisher Hartman Chevrolet 1:08.0900
7. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda 1:08.1294
8. Stebastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 1:08.1417
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda 1:08.2978
10. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda 1:08.3125

Other Honda-powered Results

11. Jack Hawksworth A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 1:08.3468
13. James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda 1:08.4120
17. Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Honda 1:08.4868
18. Gabby Chaves-R Bryan Herta Autosport Honda 1:08.5227
19. James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda 1:08.6412
21. Takuma Sato A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 1:08.9228
22. Rocky Moran Jr.-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda 1:11.1072
23. Francesco Dracone-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda 1:11.2761

Rahal, Hunter-Reay Head Friday Practice for Honda at Long Beach

  • Rahal posts seventh-quickest time in afternoon practice session

  • Ryan Hunter-Reay leads Honda effort in morning practice, third-quickest

Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay led the Honda field in Verizon IndyCar Series practice Friday in preparation for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach. Rahal, debuting his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda in the colors of new sponsor Steak & Shake, ran seventh fastest in the afternoon practice and for the day.

Andretti Autosport’s Hunter-Reay posted the third-quickest time around the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit in the morning practice, but slipped down the order in the quicker afternoon session and ended the day ninth overall. Teammate Marco Andretti rounded out the top 10 in his Andretti Autosport Honda.

Activities continue Saturday with a final practice session, followed by “Fast Six” knockout qualifying that will set the 23-car field for Sunday’s race. The third round of the 16-race 2015 season starts at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) 7th fastest in Friday practice:  “We had a mechanical issue this morning and only got to run a handful of laps. But the second practice was more of what we expected. Our car was good, and we are the fastest Honda, but we have a little work to do to catch the Penskes. I was on a lap that was about a tenth [of a second] and a half quicker, but I just messed it up, ate too much curb off in Turn 8 and lost it.  I feel like there is a lot of potential. But we’re pretty close and if you put Will, Simon and a few others aside, we’re kind of the best of the rest, but we’ll keep fighting hard to improve tomorrow. We’re in the hunt.”

Steve Eriksen Interview Transcript

April 17, 2015

An interview with:  STEVE ERIKSEN

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us for the second in a series of motor coach briefings for the 2015 IndyCar season.

Our guest today is Steve Eriksen, vice president and chief operating officer of Honda Performance Development.

Steve, thanks for making the time to be with us today.

Going to open with just a general observation which sounded when we talked about it inside that it’s news to both of us. Between the operations of the IndyCar Series, the Tudor Sports Car Championship and the Pirelli World Series Challenge here this weekend, HPD has 55 engineers on site.

Talk a little bit about that.

STEVE ERIKSEN: Yeah, that’s an impressive number. Because it’s one of our home tracks, we tend to bring more folks out because it’s convenient, it doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg. But it’s not that far off from what we had at the opening race at St. Pete. In fact, that race I counted a high of 44 folks. So we’re about, you know, 10 or 11 more than that.

But because we’re supporting three different series and we want to support it in a quality manner, we’ve made some improvements in our trackside support staff, quality and quantity. In fact, I’ve gotten some feedback from our teams that they really appreciate that and are quite pleased with what they’re experiencing this year.

THE MODERATOR: So can you just amplify that a little bit by talking about how the division of labor is set up amongst the group of 55.

STEVE ERIKSEN: Sure. We did a number of things. One is we have a variety of different roles at the track. The most common one is the engine engineer. We assign engine engineers for each driver, each team. What we’ve done this year is added another layer of more senior folks so that the guys that are doing the day to day stuff of running a car have kind of an overseer who is looking at the bigger picture, looking across the cars, able to look at things that in the hectic day to day of trying to make sure that the car has got the right calibrations in there, that you’ve got the right gear ratios in there, et cetera, you don’t have time to do all the analysis you’d like.

So we’ve added another layer of very experienced guys who are kind of the key point for the team to talk to and to look at the bigger picture.

For instance, if you look at Andretti, when they run four cars, by having kind of a senior guy over those four cars, that senior guy can be making sure that improvements that are found on one car are being applied across the other cars.

So it’s a way to provide more consistency across the cars, more analysis of things that you might not have time to do when you’re running the car. So that’s added a layer and additional folks at the track.

The other thing that we’ve added is a whole series of chassis related folks to help teams get the most out of the aero kit. If you look across the teams, you’ll see we’ve got some very, very experienced guys that are positioned in with each of the teams to help them get the most out of the aero kit. So that’s another layer.

Then you’ve also got a layer of folks that are dealing with the mechanical aspects of the engine. So if there’s a trumpet change that needs to be made because of changing atmospheric conditions, if you’ve got 12 cars, you’ve only got one guy, for instance, to do that change, you got quite a queue of cars to get that change done. We’ve added more resources in that regard as well to make sure that we get good service out to the customers.

So those are kind of the things that have caused us to add even more folks at the track. I think it’s having a really good effect.

THE MODERATOR: You mentioned aero kits. We’ll segue into that discussion. Had obvious issues at St. Petersburg in the season opener with the way parts littered the racetrack in certain circumstances. HPD was proactive after that race in taking steps to ensure that that kind of thing would happen a lot less frequently.

Give us your evaluation of how that looked in New Orleans and what the course forward might be with regard to stabilizing and strengthening aero kit parts for the coming road and street course races.

STEVE ERIKSEN: Sure. We applied very quickly some strengtheners, kind of like an additional layer of carbon in a couple of spots to further strengthen the parts. Those made their debut at NOLA. I was very, very pleased to see how that turned out. We had a number of instances of car to car contact during that race. In fact, we’ve got photographs of endplates with giant tire marks on them where contact had happened, and we did not have a single instance of parts coming off the car. So that fix definitely worked well, and IndyCar was very, very pleased with what they saw from that race.

So we’re going to give it another race here to get another data point to see how things go at Long Beach. Assuming that it goes as well here as it did at NOLA, then our plan is to essentially take that strength as a benchmark, if you will, and then go back and make the same original shape but to that new strength level as a replacement part. So that way you retain the original homologated shape, the original aerodynamic intent, and you get the added strength.

THE MODERATOR: We’re inside a month now from the opening of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 500. Give us kind of an overview, if you would, of what you expect in terms of how many cars will be supplied by Honda engines.

STEVE ERIKSEN: Our plan from the very beginning has always been for 17 cars at Indy. We always planned to support more than half the field. At 17 cars, that’s a good number for us from a resource standpoint.

Based on what I’m hearing from each of our teams, I fully expect we’ll be at 17 cars for the month of May.

I’ve also heard Chevy’s at 17. So if that’s true, that gives us at least one car for Bump Day.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up to questions for Steve Eriksen.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: Your question is based on what we saw at NOLA, what’s our reflection of where we’re at?

I was really quite pleased. Obviously with the chaos of the rain and wet and stuff, it’s a crapshoot to know exactly where you’re at. But I think if we had gone green again at the end of the race, we would have seen James Jakes pass Castroneves. He was right there until another yellow came along. So he looked very competitive.

I talked to James Hinchcliffe. He was very happy with the car, very pleased with its competitiveness. And what a performance from Simona. I mean, that was just phenomenal. Sure like to see her get back in the car again. Obviously she’ll be here for Indy when we go to the Indy 500.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: Rahal looked real racy as well. He’s actually been very strong from the get go with the aero kit. His team got what you need to think about for getting the most out of it. They’ve made great progress through the races that they’ve been at so far.

So, yeah, I’m really quite pleased with the progress. Every session, teams are learning more and more about the aero kit. If you look at last year’s car, last year’s car made a lot of its performance with the under wing. Yes, you have wings, but the under wing made a lot of the performance.

IndyCar took away a ton of the performance the under wing. That was part of the regulation change. So by necessity the cars now make more performance out of the wings than out of the under wing. So that changes inherently how a car has to be set up. So we’re pleased they’re coming to grips with that.

Q. Do we have to address the structural aspects of the speedway kit, which will be making its debut at Indianapolis based on what we learned about the road, street course kit?

STEVE ERIKSEN: We had a chance to have IndyCar come out and see the full Speedway kit in totality. So they got to come out to one of the teams, see it installed, have a look over the car.

They were completely happy with what they saw. We’ve made some further suggestions to them, which they are considering. One of the things that we proposed, if you looked at Ryan Hunter Reay’s wreck at NOLA, what you saw when he wrecked, and that was a big old wreck, the rear wheel guards and the beam that joins them came off as a whole. That’s entirely expected based on the regulations and the way that they require us to segregate the boxes.

But our suggestion to them, and they’re looking at it, is why not tie in the rear wheel guards to the main plane? Why not connect those together? You’re going to form a box that’s much more solid.

So they’re considering that. We’ll see if they agree to that. If so, then we’ll look at doing that in the future. You can look at the footage and go, Hey, that whole thing comes off as an assembly. Why not tie it in so it stays together?

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: We have tested the Speedway kit. In fact, if you looked at our video when we released the road course image, there were some images there of a car looking very Speedway like. So yes, we have.

Q. How much weight was added as a result of the structural changes to the road and street aero kits?

STEVE ERIKSEN: It’s very, very minor. Basically if you looked at the front wing endplate, the place that we reinforced was the base, the outer edge, the base of the outer edge of the front endplate. What we did, it’s a very thin sheet the carbon molded perfectly to the shape that goes on the outside, one that goes on the inside, one goes on the bottom. It kind of sandwiches the base.

But they’re very, very thin. Apart from the adhesive and the rivets that hold it in place, it’s pretty small. If you look at the rear wheel guard, it’s two strips. I mean, they’re probably about that wide. Very thin strips that go on the inside of the rear wheel guard. So it’s very, very minor.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: It’s a little hard to get a read on that. I certainly was impressed with the fuel economy that James Hinchcliffe was able to do on NOLA. He did it in one stop. I talked to him after the race. He said he had enough fuel to do two laps of green after the race in addition to what he was able to complete. So he was quite pleased with the fuel economy.

We haven’t really had enough full green segments yet in the series to assess truly where we’re at on fuel economy. But that’s traditionally been a strong suit for us, so I expect that we’ll be quite competitive there.

From a performance standpoint, like I said, everybody’s getting their heads around the fact that this is a different car and you have to set it up differently to extract the most out of the aero kit.

I mean, if you looked at some of the qualifying performances, you’ll see some folks jumping up the list that might be a little bit surprising, but it’s because they got their heads around what was needed to get the performance out of the kit, and they were able to do quite well.

I don’t think you’ve seen all of the performance that’s possible from the kit. I’m pretty confident in that.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: Again, it’s hard to assess. But everything that we’ve gotten as feedback from our teams said we made a huge step forward over the off season. We can see it in the power curves. But they can feel it in the car.

We’ve made such an increase that drivers are having trouble keeping that power to the ground. That’s one of the things they’re dealing with. This is so much power that I’ve got to rework the car to try to deal with the extra power.

Q. Are the changes that we felt necessary just related to construction?

STEVE ERIKSEN: Yeah, at this point that’s where it’s at. I mean, you know, it’s interesting watching the in car video and the video that you see from the broadcast, just how much that Dallara main plane is being deformed. That’s happening because we’re putting a ton of force on it. We’re making power out of that wing. The main plane, which last year didn’t have to deal with much of that power, is now really getting a workout.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: We have a whole series of tests that the aero kit had to pass to be homologated. We passed all those with flying colors on the first test.

What you don’t have is there’s no spec for how hard are the drivers going to run into each other. It’s a little bit of learning as you go along. We responded very quickly once we saw that there was improvement that made sense to do. So far it’s panned out really well.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: It did seem at NOLA that the yellows dragged on so long that the tires cooled down, and then you get into this cycle of, Oh, geeze, now another guy’s gone off. It takes so long to get it cleaned up. Your tires cool down.

I was actually talking to Gil about this during the race. He reminded us it used to be the case, it creates its own problem, they used to take the pace car off early and allow everybody to do a lap on their own to get tires back up to temp before they did the lap that says go green.

The problem was, of course, people would accordion out, can’t get a good start because people are spread out differently.

But it would give drivers a bit more time to get the tires up to temp to prevent an immediate problem again.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: It’s been a big exercise because nothing exists in isolation. So when we had an opportunity to design an aero kit, we also had the opportunity to change everything about how the engine    essentially all the engine integration parts of the installation. So, you know, it was a chance for our engine guys and our chassis guys to really work together to extract the most out of this engine installation kit for this season.

We did a great job. We reduced weight. We improved power. The whole kit has better (indiscernible). They did a wonderful job. That can only be done when you have that kind of close working relationship between the chassis side and the engine side. It’s been a great exercise engineering wise.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: It is a challenge. Ultimately qualifying and race are two very different configurations. Qualifying, it’s take every bit of drag off the car and make it as low drag as you can without pitching the driver off into the wall. Then the race, it’s different. You obviously put more downforce on for the race.

So we’ve focused the biggest part of our efforts on making the very, very best racecar first and foremost. So the target, of course, is an Indy 500 win. The kit is designed to be the very, very best racecar we can put in place.

You’ll see some very interesting little elements as you look around the car. It’s going to be a lot cleaner looking because you don’t have all those drag inducing high downforce elements. But there are subtle little pieces around the car that have some very interesting aerodynamic effects.

So we’re in the process of finalizing our plan for introducing that aero kit along with IndyCar probably just post Barber we’re looking at.

Q. (No microphone.)

STEVE ERIKSEN: Number one goal of our company is winning the Indy 500. It is the most important thing for us to do. So that was the design ethos behind the aero kit, was start with the Indy 500 and then everything else cascades on after that.

So there’s certain parts of the aero kit that are fixed. You can’t change them between superspeedway and road course. Those parts had to first and foremost be the best Indy 500 winning parts we could make, then everything else had to add on from there.

That’s an easy one. That’s been the case from day one, so… That’s very, very important.

THE MODERATOR: With that, we will wrap it up. Thanks for making the time for this today. Steve, thanks for joining us. Have a good race weekend.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

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